Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Un-Vacation

I've got some quiet time to myself for the moment while Reuben and Tim are napping, so I figured it would be a good time to start updating on our Un-Vacation, as I am calling it. Tim's company, Artech Communications, was hired by the International Cadet Camporee 2008 to provide staging and sound equipment for the week, and the deal was that Tim would go up there to do that. The Camporee would provide us with a campsite at the nearby family campground for us to stay on for the week and Tim would drive back and forth daily for their assemblies. We get a nice vacation, they get their sound needs taken care of, everyone is happy.

Sounds like a nice time doesn't it?


The fun began on Tuesday August 5th at 2am bright and early...okay maybe not so bright yet. We packed the car, stopped at the shop to pick up the truck full of equipment that Tim was driving down there, and we headed north. We arrived in good time and spent the day setting up the stage and equipment. The boys would be arriving the next day and the first assembly was scheduled to be Wednesday evening, so we had lots of time to get things set up.

Then it rained. And rained. And rained some more. And then there was a massive thunderstorm. And it kept raining.

We were supposed to be at the family campground already that night, but we ended up throwing up our tent at the Camporee site b/c we didn't think we'd get there in time to set up before the rain. Heck, once the rain stopped we couldn't even LEAVE because of all the mud. Vehicles were getting stuck everywhere. And it turned out that our brand-new tent leaked, so we ended up "sleeping" in a camper on a table that turned into a bed. The camper was a bit of a hole that one of the Camporee staff had been staying in sporadically throughout the time that they were setting up and building the campsite. It was meant as a hunting trailer, and it was obvious that a bachelor was living there.

Yes, me, Reuben, and Tim, shared one of those tiny beds. We couldn't all sleep on our backs at the same time. The entire night defined "uncomfortable". I am not kidding.

THEN, at about 1:30am we get a knock on the camper door from an OPP officer asking if we were part of the Camporee b/c there was a coach bus from Los Angeles stuck in a driveway up the road and needed help. So Tim and the other two guys that were in the camper with us went out to help.

This was only Day 1.

The next day was spent dealing with the mud that was leftover from the rain the night before. I eventually made it to the family campground and got set up there, then went back to the Camporee site to pick up Tim who was waiting for them to do their evening assembly.

Well, that assembly got cancelled. The mud was so bad that they couldn't get the ATV's and 4-wheelers through to the campsites where the cadets were staying to bring them their food. So the staff cook-tent ended up making burgers for all of them, but it took a long time to get them all fed. They were also having difficulty getting through to bring the boys their supplies they needed to make their shelters for the week. In the end they said, forget about assembly, eat supper and get your tents made.

So we got to head back for the night, and that was the end of Day 2.

Day 3 was a standard day as planned. Tim went to the Camporee for morning and evening assembly, and came back to our site in between. It rained off and on throughout the day.

Day 4 (Friday) we headed into town because it was raining again, and we needed to pick up a heater for the tent because Reuben was getting too cold at night and had been needing to share our bed or he wouldn't sleep. Tim headed back to the Camporee early that day because there was a special band coming in for the evening that he needed to set up for. By now the boys are pretty wet, and aren't having any chance to dry off because it just keeps raining. The mud is also ridiculous, and the roads in the Camporee site are becoming impassable.

Day 5 (Saturday) The fun begins. Camporee staff made the decision after a 2 hours meeting to cancel the rest of the event and evacuate the boys. The main reason: cold. Yes the boys were wet, the rain was terrible, and the mud even worse, but this could have all been dealt with. When the temperature was predicted to drop into single digits overnight and a few boys were being treated for hypothermia, this became a problem. They arranged for the boys to be taken to an arena in nearby Sundridge (town population 1000) and the first busloads started to arrive that afternoon. They got about half of the boys out Saturday evening. Progress was slow due to the mud issue, as the only vehicles they could use to get anything out of the camp were bulldozers.

Day 6 (Sunday) The rest of the boys were evacuated to Sundridge, and family members start converging to pick up their sons. I joined Tim at the arena and did what I could to help at the cook-tent that was preparing to feed the mass of boys and their parents. About half of the boys were picked up by the end of the day, and the other half stayed at the arena overnight, entertained by DVDs that Tim was able to set up for them.

Day 7 (Monday) This was the first day of nice weather that we had all week. Sunday had been partly sunny, partly cloudy, and still rained a bit, but Monday we went all the way until supper without rain. Reuben and I spent the afternoon at the beach and Tim helped out at the Camporee site to rebuild the roads so that they could get the rest of the equipment out. At this point we couldn't go home if we wanted to because there was no way to get Tim's sound equipment out due to the mud.

Day 8 (Tuesday) The mud had finally dried up enough that Tim arranged for the truck for his gear to come back up, and by early afternoon his gear was out and we were able to pack up and go home. I spent the morning helping out in the staff area, which was still filled with mud. I ended up taking off my shoes and walking barefoot through mud that was shin-deep in places. I am told that this was significantly dryer than earlier in the week. We got home around midnight, and I was thrilled to be able to wash my feet and sleep in my own bed.

So that's my story...there are more little details that I haven't gotten into. Some fun rumors flew around involving the army being called in, and my personal favourite, that the Canadian army wouldn't come, so the American National Guard was coming with helicopters! :) Amazing what a little gossip can come up with. I'm off for now. Pictures are on Facebook, but I might get a couple up here at some point too...


Anonymous said...

What an experience! I've been looking at the pictures on the Cadet web site after your call on Sunday. I'm glad you got home safe and sound. You'll have fun telling Reuben stories about one of his first camping experiences.

Chris & Jolene said...

Oh wow Marleah, that's too crazy! Chris' dad is a Cadet leader, so he and two of his boys were there that weekend as well... we heard some crazy stories from them. Too bad you got caught in it -- it probably sucked at the time, but yeah, like your mum said, think of the great stories you'll have to tell!

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh Marleah! I can't imagine what a horrible trip that was with Reuben... Yikes! You are braver than I - I would have abandoned ship on Day 4!! LOL!


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